San Jose, California -- TJ. Rodgers, the outspoken CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, declared energy independence today.
Dressed in an absolutely fabulous red, white and blue Fourth of July ensemble, Thurman John (T.J.) Rodgers addressed a crowd at the Cypress Semiconductor to celebrate "the unanimous declaration of independence from the electrical grid."
Cypress is generating 75 percent of its own power right now. That mix is 11 percent from the solar panels on the roofs of two buildings and 64 percent from the three newly commissioned Bloom Energy fuel cell units now in operation, which provide 300 kilowatts of power. The company's goal is to get to 100 percent self-sufficiency by 2015, with some of that coming from energy efficiency improvements. Rodgers remains open to new technologies, including energy storage.
Rodgers was the key, initial investor in solar efficiency leader SunPower, and is also an investor and board member of Bloom, the Kleiner Perkins-backed solid oxide fuel cell purveyor. We've covered the fuel cell company in detail.
The PV panels on the facility roofs were installed ten years ago at a price of $1.5 million. According to Rodgers, they paid for themselves by 2008 and are now generating $70,000 a year in power. The panels on the roof were installed before Rodgers' investment in SunPower. They are only 14 percent efficient and "from a company I won't name, which is spilling a lot of oil right now," in Rodgers' words.
The fuel cells and PV panels power two buildings containing offices, data centers and labs. Baseload power is to come from the fuel cells and peak power from the solar panels. The fuel cells are powered by natural gas but could eventually be powered by biogas.
I checked out the three $700,000 fuel cell units, which are sleekly designed and humming quietly as they operate. Each takes up about as much space as a standard parking lot space. (I did startle a few maintenance workers who were taking a cigarette break behind the units.)
I spoke briefly with Stu Aaron, the VP of Marketing and Product Management at Bloom. He let me know that the company has shipped "several tens of units" so far and that Combined Heat and Power (CHP) was not part of the Bloom value proposition. He did not wish to shed any light on Bloom's IPO plans or recent funding push.
Have a great Fourth of July weekend.
Picture of T.J. Rodgers from the NY Times